Thursday, September 1, 2011
It all happened when I came to Philippines for my Doctoral studies. From my friends, I came to know the growth of a ‘new church,’ which teaches ‘Jesus is not God.’ I decided to study seriously the doctrines of ‘Iglesia Ni Cristo’ from their own ministers, who claim to be the members of the ‘true church.’ My beloved friends in that group invited me one day to the ‘Central,’ to witness hundreds of Catholics, after their indoctrination, receiving baptism. There I met Marivic, a former Catholic, to whom I enquired what forced her to abandon Catholicism.
“The Catholic faith is not from the Bible,” she said, “but this church teaches everything from the Bible.”
“Did you ever discuss your doubts about the Catholic faith to a priest or someone who knows that faith well?” I asked.
She laughed and said, “This is the first time in my life I am talking to a priest.”
“Do you remember a good book you have read that defends the Catholic faith?”
“Oh! Without knowing the Catholic Church properly, how can you conclude it as wrong?”
Our conversation became more serious as she frankly stated: “If Catholic Church is true, why there is total indiscipline in that Church?” “…Meaningless old practices.”
“Yes, you maybe right in that point,” I said, “but remember, it was that Church who first gave you the knowledge about the Bible and Jesus. See, I have a mother. She is too old: never wear modern dresses, always like to keep old customs. She looks not beautiful, as old age made her face so curly, but I love her! It is she who nourished me with love. You should have tried to know the Catholic Church better, before you abandon her.”
Marivic became more meditative…
I have asked the same question to many whom I met, answers were the same.
Why do Catholics leave their faith? Mainly because of two reasons: (1) Indiscipline that they notice in the Church; maybe due to its large number of population. (2) Ignorance; many of them practice traditional Catholic customs without knowing why they do all those… It created a fertile land where anti-Catholic elements get nourished. I can never forget the confidence that was expressed by a minister while he was ‘indoctrinating’ me: “It took only 50 years for us to shake the foundation of the Catholic Church here! After 50 years, Philippines will never be a Catholic country!” That night I looked at the picture of ‘Jesus of Divine Mercy’ and asked: “Are we preaching a wrong faith which you don’t support, Jesus?” As tears filled my eyes, a sudden thought flowed to mind: ‘God knows how to lead His Church… but I have to write this,’ for Catholics ‘to think’… anti-Catholics ‘to re-think.’
Fr. Paul Kaiparambadan